Which NHL Playoff Team Should You Root For?

Panther Parkway Playoff Preview

We’re hours away from puck drop for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and it donned on me (and on all around good guy Jameson Cooper) that there may be thousands and possibly millions of you readers out there who don’t have a vetted interest in a team this year. Your team may have not made it to the post-season, you could be a new fan or you could have amnesia…if that’s the case, thanks for reading and consult a physician immediately after reading this post. Whatever the reason may be, if you need to latch on to a team for the post-season then do I have a piece for you! There are 16 teams in this year’s post season, some are good, some are really good, some are really really really good and some are just OK. Let’s take a look at which team may be a good fit for you.

Anaheim Ducks

Do you like Disney movies about a scrappy gang of youths melded together by the bonds of teamwork, being poor, and national pride? If so then the Ducks could be the team you’re looking for. Don’t be confused by their captain’s lack of hair – he’s amazing at hockey and will not let you down if you’re looking for a deep playoff run. The kicker is 92 year Teemu Selanne, who is retiring at the end of these playoffs, so if you’re into nostalgia and crying then you’re on the right path.

Boston Bruins

Nobody in their right mind should cheer for the Bruins so if you’re not in your right mind you can cheer for them I guess. Also I hate you.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been the toast of the NHL for a while now. If you’re that person who wants instant gratification then hitch your horse to the wagon and hang on for dear life. If you’re the person who has never seen a Rocky movie, watches Rocky 4 ,and then tells everyone that you love every Rocky movie then cheer for the Blackhawks.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche is made up from a group of young players with an excessive amount of high-end dynamic talent. Players like Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene (injured, but still), Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, will surely make your eyes pop out of your head. They’re also coached by a crazy person. Their playoff hashtag is #whynotus so if you’re into innovative playoff hashtags you might want to look elsewhere for a team to support.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs for the 2nd time in their history. Good for them right? If you like an underdog and or jokes about fellatio then you should fit right in with this fanbase. The Blue Jackets are this year’s working class blue-collar team so if you get a kick out of those Ford F-150 commercials where the announcer is pretty much reading everything on the screen, then go ahead and cheer for the Jackets.

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn, best player by far, has led his Stars to the last playoff spot in the West. I’m sure all of Texas is behind them but if you feel like hootin’ and hollerin’ and ho-downin’ and other Texas slangs then hop right on this chuck wagon!

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has made the playoffs 23 years in a row. They have won only 4 Stanley Cups in that span, so if you like high winning percentages, then don’t root for the Red Wings. If you like Sweden, rookies, cool breakaway moves and great coaching then they may be right up your alley.

Los Angeles Kings

All of LA’s top C list celebrities are totally into the Kings so if you want to head to Staples Center and snap a selfie with Matthew Perry then you’re in the right ballpark. The Kings are a team that Wayne Gretzky used to play for so if you want to impress your friends with that bit of trivia when explaining your fandom then wear that silver and black.

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey” which would be accurate if Michigan, New York, New Jersey, California, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania all didn’t have hockey teams too. Liars.

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal has won the most Stanley Cups out of any NHL franchise with 24. They haven’t won one since 1993 so if you’re looking to get on board with a group of self-entitled history-clutching crazies, who are desperately waiting to see a cup win in their lifetime then mon ami/e you are knocking at the right door. Poutine is fantastic too, that should be good enough.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are one of three teams in New York (keep thinking of that third one). They’re like the Yankees if the Yankees have only won 4 World Series ever and haven’t won one since 1994 and the one before that was in 1940. If you like not having lofty expectations met then go put on a blue shirt.

Philadelphia Flyers

They sing America the Beautiful instead of the Star Spangled Banner so if you like alternate forms of patriotism then cheer for the Flyers. They’re also historically violent, made the Red Army team refuse to play against them because of it and their fans have the reputation of being a-holes. If this made you mad then you’re probably a Flyers fan already.

Pittsburgh Penguins

If you like cheering for the best at anything then step right up and feast your eyes on Sidney Crosby. Supporting the best hockey player in the world is reason enough to cheer for the Penguins and fans have been doing just that since 2005. I’d like to point out that former arguably best player in the world Mario Lemieux partly owns the team and will be shown frequently on TV throughout these playoffs so if you like passing torches from generation to generation then grab a Pens jersey and get ready to be disappointed by Marc Andre Fleury.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup and have the unfortunate reputation of being “playoff chokers.” If you like great teams with great players then cheer for the Sharks. If you like teal then cheer for the Sharks. If you like the Jaws theme song then cheer for the Sharks. If you want to get offended every time someone mentions the word “choke” then sheer for the Sharks. If you want to be part of their first cup win then don’t cheer for the Sharks because they’re kind of chokers.

St. Louis Blues

Another team without a Cup win ever. A lot of people don’t like the Blues so if you’re a fan of being the outcast who sticks up for their team no matter what horrible thing they do that makes everyone else angry then cheer for the Blues. American almost hero Ryan Miller is their starting goalie. You probably heard of him a few years ago.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Led by elite sniper Steven Stamkos for now, the Lightning are one of those cool teams that doesn’t end in an S. If you like the Oklahoma City Thunder then DEFINITELY cheer for the Lightning because then you can make your twitter handle @ThunderandLightning and you’ll be really cool.

By now you should have a team that suits you perfectly. If you’re still undecided, then refresh this page and read the post again. Go Hockey Go, enjoy the playoffs folks.


Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Red Wings

Three Stars

1st: Gustav Nyquist (1G-0A-1P)

2nd: Daniel Alfreddson (1G-0A-1P)

3rd:  Tim Thomas (.938 sv% – 30-32)

Goals (Red Wings 3, Panthers 1)

FLA: Scottie Upshall (10) Assists: Tomas Kopecky, Mike Weaver

DET: Daniel Alfredsson (13) (Power play) Assists: Justin Abdelkader, Niklas Kronwall

DET: Gustav Nyquist (14) Assists: Unassisted

DET: Brian Lashoff (1) (Empty Net) Assists: Darren Helm


During the first period, the Florida Panthers honored their two Olympic players, Aleksander Barkov (Finland) and Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia), by raising personalized Olympic banners from the rafters at the BB&T center.

Quote of the game

“Eight shots after two periods, probably not gunna cut it.” – Ed Jovanovski

Tweet of the game

Next Up

The Florida Panthers will head to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Tune into FOX Sports Florida to catch all of the action!

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

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Video: Pavel Datsyuk Talks About Returning From His Latest Injury

With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to take place in just a few days in his native Russia, Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk is ready to make his return to the ice tonight against the Florida Panthers.

Having not played since January 1 while nursing a lower-body injury, Datsyuk’s return bodes well for both the Red Wings and Team Russia’s hopes of Olympic gold.

Prior to his injury, Datysuk had earned 32 points (15-17-32) in 35 games played.

While this news may be good for fans of both the Red Wings and Russia, Panthers’ fans will be lamenting this return as Datsyuk has already earned 4 points (1-3-4) in just two games against the Cats this season.

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Red Wings. I Talk Only To Strangers.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 20-24-7 (47 PTS.) vs. DETROIT RED WINGS: 23-18-10 (56 POINTS)

GAME DAY SONG: Streets Of Fire, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

After being virtually injury free for most of the season, injuries are now beginning to surface with the Florida Panthers.  With Dylan Olsen, Alex Petrovic and Mike Mottau on injured reserve, forward Tomas Kopecky has missed three games, and it was learned yesterday that rookie sensation Aleksander Barkov is out with a knee injury and is not expected to play on the current road trip for the Panthers.  Barkov who missed Friday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche could join the team for game four.  Barkov is the teams leading scorer with 24 points and has been centering the teams’ top line with Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenheim as his linemates.  His place in the lineup was taken by Scott Gomez who played in his first game since December 28th a fter being a healthy scratch.

Speaking of Friday’s game against the Avalanche, the Panthers came up short and it was their own fault.  While the game took place in Florida, the Panthers looked as though for the first 20-25 minutes as though they were suffering from altitude sickness.  Slow starts for this team have been well documented, and Friday’s was again detrimental.  The loss comes after two emotional wins in Pittsburgh and Buffalo, where the Panthers played extremely well for most of each game, and the success can be attributed to quick starts.  Needless to say, the power play is still in a season long funk, going 0 for 38 which is a franchise record.  Another way to look at their 9.0% success rate is that they have been held scoreless 90% of the time with the man advantage.  A brutal statistic that if just slightly improved may have resulted in at least 5 victories.

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Watch Aleksander Barkov’s Forsbergian Shootout Goal

Succeeding behind the scenes for the Florida Panthers in recent weeks, 2nd overall pick Aleksander Barkov finally saw himself center stage in a 3-2 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night.

Entrusted with the Panthers’ first attempt of the shootout, Barkov took a page out of swedish sensation Peter Forsberg’s book of tricks, and beat Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard with ease in what almost looked like a slow motion play.

With an assist, shoot out goal, and going 65% in the face-off dot against the highly skilled Red Wings’ centerman, Barkov showed Panthers’ fans why Dale Tallon took a chance on the 18-year-old phenom.

(Barkov’s goal can be seen at the 23 second mark.)

Video: Brad Boyes Talks After GW Shootout Goal Against Detroit

Just one game after slumping play made him a healthy scratch against the Chicago Blackhawks, veteran forward Brad Boyes had his shot at redemption on Tuesday night.

Relegated to the fourth line for Tuesday’s matchup against the Detroit Red Wings, Boyes was fairly average through just over 10 minutes of ice time, but would make up for it as the game headed into a shootout.

After Aleksander Barkov and Tomas Tatar scored for their respective teams, the burden was placed on Boyes to bring home a much needed victory for the struggling Panthers.

Already the NHL’s career leader in shootout goals, Boyes made quick work of Red Wings’ goaltender Jimmy Howard as he hit the back of the net and brought the fans at the BB&T Center to their feet.

Boyes has now converted on four of his five shootout attempts this season, good enough for 80% for all you non math wizards out there.

In the video below, Boyes talks about the team’s improbable victory as well as his own late game heroics.

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Panthers Make The Most Of Effort Against Short-Handed Wings

Too many times this season, the Florida Panthers have had nights where they dominated possession and peppered opposing goalies for a disproportionate number of shots, only to find themselves on the wrong on end of the result. Saturday night in Detroit, the Cats were able to flip that script as they took advantage of a Red Wings team (playing without Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk) in a 2-1 win. Florida enjoyed a huge disparity in shots on goal (37-23), especially over the final two periods (28-14).
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GameDay Preview: Panthers vs. Red Wings. Not Too Skinny, Not Too Fat.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 8-16-5 (21 PTS.) vs. DETROIT RED WINGS: 15-8-7 (37 PTS.)


GAMEDAY SONG: Detroit Medley. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Florida Panthers closed out their five game homestand with an offensive outburst by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Thursday night.  Five different players scored and Tim Thomas made 29 saves in what was his 13th start in a row, and I’ll bet he’ll be between the pipes again tonight.  The victory snapped a three game losing streak for Florida, and saw newly acquired defenceman Dylan Olsen score his first NHL goal, as well as add an assist for a two point night.

Hopefully the Panthers are able to build on that victory as their next three games are against Detroit, with the Chicago Blackhawks sandwiched in between.  It will also mark the first time that former long time Panthers Stephen Weiss will face his former team.  Weiss was allowed to explore free agency after 10 years with the Panthers and signed a four year deal with the Red Wings.  Weiss’s season has been a disappointment so far as he’s scored twice and has two assists giving him four points in 23 games.  As usual Weiss missed time this season with a groin injury, something that seems to happen every year.  If you’ve watched some Red Wings games this season, you’ll see some of the same play that infuriated this writer for so many seasons.

Panther killer Daniel Alfredsson is now a Red Wing, and will be someone the Panthers will need to contain, as he”s still a very dangerous player.  Despite the fact that both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datysuk are out with injuries, good teams like Detroit still find ways to win.  Datysuk is slated to return when these two teams faceoff Tuesday in Sunrise. It also helps to have Mike Babcock behind the bench.  Babcock is one of the very best coach’s in the NHL, and always manages to get the most out of his players.  He manages his players well, has them prepared, and they love to play for him.

Some of Detroit’s players are quite pestilulent, and that includes Daniel Cleary.  A hard nosed player that is a prototypical third liner, Cleary is known for his hustle, agitation, and for scoring a timely goal when least expected.  Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson who is undefeated so far this season could be in goal for the Wings, provides a decent one-two punch with Jimmy Howard who appears to be struggling after a very solid season in 2012-2013.

Florida will need an exceptional effort from everyone, and will need to avoid mistakes.  Detroit likes to hold onto the puck and will test Florida’s patience by doing so.  The Panthers will have to play very smart hockey, and hope that they can catch the Wings off guard since they played last night in New Jersey.  No games in the NHL are easy, and this one along with the next two are perfect examples of that.

Growing up as a Chicagoan, and having seen the Red Wings more than I care to admit, it’s no secret that they aren’t on my Christmas card list.  My disdain for them is right up their with Vancouver, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  However, as an organEYEzation, I respect what they’ve done, and how they operate their franchise.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

GIF: Pavel Datsyuk Bests Zdeno Chara

Even at 35-years-old, Pavel “The Wizard” Datsyuk proved once again on Monday night that there is still plenty of magic left in his game. At the 11:33 mark of the 1st period of the Red Wings’ Columbus Day matinee against the Bruins, Datysuk would use his otherworldly stick-handling abilities to burst past perennial All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara and feed line-mate Henrik Zetterberg for the first goal of the game. The Red Wings would go on to win the game by a final score of 3-2 behind Datysuk’s heroics.

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Five Potentially Elite Teams in EA Sports’ NHL 14

For over two decades, EA Sports’ NHL Hockey series has been providing fans with the most realistic hockey playing experience that can be achieved while sitting on a couch in the safety of your own home. Through bone crushing hits, dazzling dekes, and dirty snipes, EA’s NHL series has been the premier hockey simulation for quite some time. Whether you constantly find yourself reflecting back on memories of NHL ’94 or used NHL ’13 to help ease the pain of last season’s lockout, EA’s hockey series has meant a lot to fans throughout the years.

Now, with the latest installment of EA’s NHL series to be released on September 10th, I decided to take a look ahead at who the elite teams may be in NHL ’14. After taking time to review team’s current ratings in NHL ’13, as well as offseason transactions, I have compiled a list of the five teams that I believe will be the most dangerous in EA’s newest installment of the series. Keep in mind that a team’s effectiveness in the actual NHL has no real bearing on the team we will see in NHL ’14. I have based my list of teams strictly on in-game ratings, as well as skater’s growth potential after their performances during the 2012-2013 season. It is also important to note that team’s rosters are not set in stone, as several key free agents still remain unsigned.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the list!

[Read more…]

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